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Article
Publication date: 17 July 2017

Grahame Dowling

The glass ceiling is a metaphor used to characterize the gender inequality of women at the top in most large western organizations. This situation has prompted many…

Abstract

Purpose

The glass ceiling is a metaphor used to characterize the gender inequality of women at the top in most large western organizations. This situation has prompted many business organizations, NGOs and governments to encourage large organizations to promote more women into the executive suite and onto boards of directors. While there is little controversy about this initiative, this paper argues that there should be because it directly challenges the principle that merit should outweigh diversity. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews research that purports to show that women are unfairly under-represented in the most senior positions in large western organizations. It also reviews the arguments that more senior women would improve the performance of these organizations. This research is then used to develop a model of why there are markedly fewer women than men at the top of large organizations.

Findings

This study finds that most of the research studies purporting to show that there is a bias against promoting women to the top of large western organizations are unsound because they are poorly designed and/or fail to accommodate alternative explanations for this effect. Thus, the current number of women who run these organizations may be a good reflection of their contribution to the management of these organizations. These findings suggest that many of the policies that are promoted to help women break through the glass ceiling are misguided.

Practical implications

Large organizations should think carefully about following the advice of special interest groups who vigorously promote this social cause.

Social implications

Social policy advocates need better research from which to advance their cause that there are currently too few women in senior management positions of large organizations.

Originality/value

This is one of only a handful of papers that challenges the current orthodoxy that artificial glass ceilings are restricting the potential contribution of women to the better management of large organizations.

Details

Annals in Social Responsibility, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3515

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 4 September 2017

Remya Lathabhavan and Senthil Arasu Balasubramanian

The purpose of the paper is to review and analyse different glass ceiling studies conducted in different Asian countries during the three decades after the introduction of…

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1554

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to review and analyse different glass ceiling studies conducted in different Asian countries during the three decades after the introduction of the metaphor. It also describes the antecedents and the consequences of the glass ceiling.

Design/methodology/approach

The method chosen for the study was a computerised search of available materials using the keywords relating to glass ceiling in Asia and latest reports from international organisations.

Findings

The perception of glass ceiling existence in Asian countries has been sorted out region-wise. Different factors for glass ceiling have been categorised under different theories.

Research limitations/implications

The study includes a multiregional aspect of glass ceiling, which will be useful for further studies in this area. The limitation of the study is that it did not assess the awareness and influence of glass ceiling in each industry.

Practical implications

Since the study showed glass ceiling practices in different countries in Asia, it might help policy makers for making proper decisions for breaking of glass ceiling.

Social implications

The study may be a part of empowering women as it analyses areas of inequality and finds out antecedents.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to shed light on glass ceiling on a multicultural and multiregional aspect.

Details

Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-4323

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Article
Publication date: 7 December 2015

Gary N. Powell and D. Anthony Butterfield

The purpose of this paper is to consider the current status of women in management and explanations offered for this status in light of a rare empirical field study of the…

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2344

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to consider the current status of women in management and explanations offered for this status in light of a rare empirical field study of the “glass ceiling” phenomenon the authors conducted about 20 years ago.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors review the study’s key arguments, unexpected results, and implications for organizational effectiveness (which have been largely ignored). The authors then review what has transpired and what has been learned about the glass ceiling phenomenon since.

Findings

The nature of glass ceilings has remained essentially stable over a 20-year period, although further explanations for them have flourished.

Research limitations/implications

More scholarly examinations of ways to shatter glass ceilings and thereby enhance organizational effectiveness are recommended.

Practical implications

Organizations, human resources directors, and internal decision makers need to adopt practices that foster “debiasing” of decisions about promotions to top management.

Social implications

Societies need to encourage organizations to adopt ways to shatter glass ceilings that continue to disadvantage women.

Originality/value

A systematic review and analysis of the present-day implications of an early study of the glass ceiling phenomenon has not previously been conducted.

Details

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, vol. 2 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2051-6614

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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2019

Helen Woolnough, Sandra Fielden, Sarah Crozier and Carianne Hunt

The purpose of this paper is to present a longitudinal, qualitative study exploring changes in the attributional constructions of sense-making in the perceptions and lived…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a longitudinal, qualitative study exploring changes in the attributional constructions of sense-making in the perceptions and lived experiences of the glass-ceiling among a cohort of female mental health nurses in the National Health Service who participated in a 12-month multi-faceted career and leadership development pilot programme compared to a matched control group.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors interviewed 27 female mental health nurses in the UK who participated in a multi-faceted development programme specifically designed to support female nurses secure career advancement and 27 members of a matched control group who did not experience the programme. Participants engaged in semi-structured telephone interviews at three separate time points (six months apart) over a 12-month period.

Findings

Programme participants differed in their attributional constructions of sense-making in relation to the glass-ceiling over time compared to the matched control group, e.g., triggering understandings and awakenings and re-evaluating the glass-ceiling above when promoted. Findings are used to theorise about the glass-ceiling as a concept that shifts and changes over time as a function of experience.

Practical implications

Practical implications include important organisational outcomes in relation to fostering the career advancement and retention of talented female leaders at all career stages.

Originality/value

The authors present the first known longitudinal, qualitative study to explore changes in attributional constructions of sense-making in perceptions and experiences of the glass-ceiling among female nurses over time compared to a matched control group.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 34 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2017

Sharjeel Saleem, Asia Rafiq and Saquib Yusaf

The purpose of this paper is to identify hurdles in women’s rise up the organizational ladder through the epistemic concept of the glass ceiling phenomenon. The secondary…

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1926

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify hurdles in women’s rise up the organizational ladder through the epistemic concept of the glass ceiling phenomenon. The secondary aim is to determine how the glass ceiling effect results in women’s failure to secure equal representation in high-ranking executive positions in comparison to males. The study intends to come up with empirical evidences to advance plausible justifications and support for the organizations to manage their workforce with the sense of egalitarianism.

Design/methodology/approach

The questionnaire is administered to a sample of 210 respondents including CEOs, directors, managers, assistants, accountants, doctors and teachers from public and private sectors. The variables that influence the glass ceiling phenomenon are gender (female) represented on the board of directors (BODs), stereotypical behavior and training and development of females to measure the glass ceiling effect. Further, this influence is examined regarding the selection and promotion of the females as candidates, as well as female effectiveness at work. To verify the glass ceiling phenomenon, multiple linear regression analyses with the ordinary least square method are used.

Findings

Drawing on the perspective of the social role theory, the authors identify plausible causes of the glass ceiling phenomenon in the Asian context. The results show the presence of glass ceiling, particularly characterizing its effects on the selection and promotion of the female candidates and their effectiveness. The authors found that glass ceiling was negatively related to both female effectiveness and “selection and promotion.” It was also identified that research variables such as lesser women’s representation on the BODs, training and development and stereotypical attitude toward women promote glass ceiling.

Research limitations/implications

The larger sample and data collection from different cultures would have assured more generalizability. The glass ceiling is affected by numerous variables; other factors can also be explored.

Practical implications

Organizations must consider competitive females in their selection and promotion decision making. Asian countries, especially developing countries such as Pakistan, need to develop policies to encourage active participation of the female workforce in upper echelon. The equal employment policies will reduce the dependency ratio of females, consequently driving the country’s economic growth.

Social implications

Societies need to change their stereotype attitudes toward women and encourage them to use their potential to benefit societies by shattering glass ceilings that continue to place women at a disadvantage. Developing a social culture that advances women empowerment will contribute to social and infrastructure development in Asian countries.

Originality/value

This paper adds a thought-provoking attitude of organizations in South Asia, especially in Pakistani societies that play a role in creating a glass ceiling, more so to shatter it even in 2016. This study compels firms in Pakistan and other Asian regions to use unbiased practices by investigating the impact of glass ceiling on female effectiveness that has not previously been conducted in the Asian context. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the study of glass ceiling in Pakistani context is first in the literature.

Details

South Asian Journal of Business Studies, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-628X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2006

Babita Mathur‐Helm

Present research seeks to examine the reality of the glassceiling phenomenon in South Africa's four major retail banks.

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4524

Abstract

Purpose

Present research seeks to examine the reality of the glassceiling phenomenon in South Africa's four major retail banks.

Design/methodology/approach

Investigates women's low numbers in their top management jobs. A total of 40 women managers were interviewed for their in‐depth responses, which were content analyzed.

Findings

Results indicate that the glass ceiling considered a myth by many, is real and is nurtured by the organizational culture, policies and strategies besides women's own inadequacies. Only the most decentralized organizations, characterized by a culture that supports women's top positions, will help in breaking down the glass ceiling, along with women's own efforts to grow, develop and empower themselves through academic and career development.

Research limitations/implications

It is limited to South Africa's four largest retail banks only and provides limited awareness about certain work practices that are insufficient tools to break down the glass ceiling, hence, future research may construct such tools and examine the extent to which the glass ceiling exists in different countries and the influence of the local culture in it is formation.

Practical implications

The paper provides clarity for organizational leaders to identify growth barriers existing in their organizations, leading their women workforce towards a glass ceiling.

Originality/value

It distinguishes between a glass ceiling and a job barrier and recommends organizations to practise cultural change and decentralization to break it down. This is a research paper and clarifies the difference between common career barriers and the glass ceiling by attempting to elucidate the existence of the glass ceiling.

Details

Women in Management Review, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0964-9425

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2017

Senthil Arasu Balasubramanian and Remya Lathabhavan

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between glass ceiling beliefs, work engagement, and burnout.

Downloads
2091

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between glass ceiling beliefs, work engagement, and burnout.

Design/methodology/approach

A research model was developed based on the constructs from the Career Path Survey (CPS) and a literature review of research related to work engagement and burnout. Data from a cross-sectional study of 467 female employees from banks in India were collated and empirically tested, using structural equation modeling.

Findings

Denial and resilience were positively related to work engagement and negatively to burnout. Resignation and acceptance had a positive relationship with burnout and a negative relationship with work engagement.

Research limitations/implications

Further longitudinal studies focusing on different occupational sectors and career aspects can be considered for a more accurate and generalized insight into this concept.

Practical implications

Glass ceiling survey can be considered as an input for human resource functions for effectiveness of the organization.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to analyze the connection between the beliefs that women have about the glass ceiling and burnout and its components.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 36 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 14 September 2012

Paul Smith, Peter Caputi and Nadia Crittenden

The purpose of this study is to test the concurrent criterion validity of a new measure, the Career Pathways Survey (CPS) by exploring how women's glass ceiling beliefs…

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7587

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to test the concurrent criterion validity of a new measure, the Career Pathways Survey (CPS) by exploring how women's glass ceiling beliefs are related to five major indicators of subjective career success: career satisfaction, happiness, psychological wellbeing, physical health and work engagement (WE).

Design/methodology/approach

Data from a cross‐sectional study of 258 women working in Australian organizations were analyzed. The participants completed the CPS and measures of subjective career success. The CPS assesses four sets of beliefs about glass ceilings: denial, resilience, acceptance and resignation.

Findings

Regression analyses showed denial was positively associated with career satisfaction and WE; resignation was negatively related to happiness and both emotional and physical wellbeing; resilience had positive relationships with happiness and WE; acceptance was negatively related to WE. The findings provide support for the hypotheses and the concurrent validity of the CPS.

Research limitations/implications

Given the study uses a cross‐sectional design, causal directions found between variables are inferences. Further research with longitudinal and experimental studies is needed to provide support for these inferences.

Practical implications

Training programs to analyze glass ceiling beliefs after testing with the CPS may be a beneficial strategy to help women identify reasons for their career goals. Feedback from CPS testing might facilitate greater awareness of the causes of women's subjective success in organizations.

Originality/value

The paper is the first to shed light on the connections between these success variables and women's beliefs about glass ceilings.

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2012

Paul Smith, Nadia Crittenden and Peter Caputi

The purpose of this paper is to develop a new measure called the Career Pathways Survey (CPS) which allows quantitative comparisons of women's beliefs about glass ceilings.

Downloads
3387

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a new measure called the Career Pathways Survey (CPS) which allows quantitative comparisons of women's beliefs about glass ceilings.

Design/methodology/approach

A 34‐item version of the CPS was completed by 243 women from all levels of management, mostly in Australia. An expanded 38‐item CPS was administered to another sample of women (n=307).

Findings

Analyses of data from both studies yielded a four factor model of attitudes to glass ceilings: resilience, acceptance, resignation and denial. The factors demonstrated good internal consistency.

Practical implications

The CPS allows a comparison of positive attitudes towards seeking promotions via resilience and denial scores, and provides feedback on negative attitudes towards seeking promotions via resignation and acceptance scores.

Social implications

This new measure can be recommended for studies of women's and men's attitudes towards gender inequality in organizational leadership. Also, it could play a role in identifying sexist cultures in organizations.

Originality/value

Because of the scarcity of measures of glass ceiling beliefs, this study makes a major contribution to the literature on women's beliefs about barriers to career advancement.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 28 September 2012

Paul Smith, Peter Caputi and Nadia Crittenden

The purpose of this paper is to review many of the diverse metaphors and labels that are used to highlight insights into glass ceilings – the obstacles hindering women…

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4461

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review many of the diverse metaphors and labels that are used to highlight insights into glass ceilings – the obstacles hindering women reaching the top levels of organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

The development of metaphors and labels related to theories about the causes and consequences of glass ceilings are discussed. They are classified according to whether or not they infer women play a role in creating glass ceilings.

Findings

It is concluded that most metaphor‐linked explanations focus on discrimination and prejudice towards women seeking leadership positions. A small number of metaphors target characteristics of women as causes for the gender inequality in leadership and upper management.

Practical implications

Even though there is a plethora of metaphors highlighting obstacles and prejudice against women leaders and several metaphors have been part of the popular lexicon for at least three decades, metaphors do not appear to have greatly helped to quicken the dismantling of glass ceilings.

Originality/value

This is a unique approach to reviewing literature in this area.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal, vol. 27 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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